At this point in the season, they have the baseball’s strikeout leader (Cliff Lee) and the guy tied for second (Roy Halladay), the pitcher with the most complete games (duh), highest K/BB rate among qualified starters (duh again), the fWAR leader (you guessed it!), the top three pitchers in baseball by xFIP (lol), and the highest staff WAR in baseball.
In short, they come exactly as advertised. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee might get the most attention given their great careers, but Cole Hamels might end up with the best year of the bunch.
After 8 innings of shutout, walk-free pitching last night, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between the top three pitchers in the Phillies rotation. Over the last 30 days, Hamels is the most valuable pitcher in baseball. Since his first ugly start of the season (2.2 innings, 7 runs allowed) Hamels has pitched at least 7 innings every outing but one, in which he went six.
He’s become a ground ball machine while surrendering just one home run in six starts, thanks to his newfound love of the cutter. Like his Phillie teammates, Hamels leans on the cutter to make his deadly changeup an ever greater weapon.
In short, Cole Hamels is pitching as well or better than the widely-acknowledged best pitcher in baseball over an extended period of time. He’s tied for second in rWAR for the season just behind said teammate. The man deserves some credit from outside the Phillies sphere of influence.
It’s weird to think of a former World Series MVP as overlooked or underrated, yet Hamels operates in the shadow of his high profile teammates. On the field, Hamels lets his incredible play speak for him. Off the field, his great love of glamorous photo shoots take him places his cutter never could. It’s the price of being handsome, I suppose. And what a toll it takes.